For nearly half a century, Socorro Gallardo has worked in the maintenance division for the Port of Long Beach. “I’ve been a mechanic all my life,” he said. “It’s a passion that goes back to when I was 13. It was something that came natural to me.” From standard vehicles such as cars and trucks to construction equipment to generators to a 30-ton crane, there are about 400 pieces of equipment that are maintained by Socorro’s team. He started at the port as an entry-level mechanic but has worked his way up to garage supervisor. Socorro went to high school in Long Beach, where he went through a two-year diesel mechanics course. He went on to receive a diesel mechanic certificate from a trade school and, for more than 20 years, Socorro has held a master certificate from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Prior to working at the port, Socorro worked as a mechanic at multiple truck dealerships and a private street sweeping company. Fighting back tears, he recalled a late friend who helped stoke his passion as a mechanic and a late uncle who inspired him to take great pride in his work. He also noted his mother’s unyielding support and the first car she bought him when he was 15 – a 1948 Pontiac. Socorro’s favorite car to work on is his late uncle’s 1965 El Camino. “Getting in this field, it’s a trade that if you approach it with great passion and commitment, it’s very rewarding,” he said. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)


Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.